Fillmore wasn’t the only one with White House/bath tub troubles


Jim Butler alerted me to this little piece at I Can Has Cheezburger?  Notice the historical/mathematical error, explained below:

Yeah, it’s funny.  But Taft didn’t serve in all three branches of the federal government. He was never a member of Congress.  He served in the executive branch and the judicial branch, at least twice in each, but he never served in the legislative branch, in Congress.

Taft was collector of taxes for the IRS, Ohio state judge, Solicitor General of the U.S., judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for the U.S., chairman of the commission to organize a government for the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, and then Governor-General of the Philippines, Secretary of War for Teddy Roosevelt, Acting Secretary of State, Governor of Cuba, Co-chairman of the National War Labor Board in World War I, and then Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, but never a member of either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

The LOLphoto is still funny.

Oh.  Kenny just found the same thing posted at Kitchen Pundit.   Still wrong.  Still funny.

What “bathtub trouble?” Well, yeah, we ought to explain that.  The story is that Taft was so large — 330 pounds plus as president — that he once got stuck in a White House bathtub, and consequently had a much larger tub installed there.  Is the story accurate?

Here’s a news story of Taft’s bathing troubles post-presidency, from the New York Times:

CAPE MAY, N.J., June 18 [1915]. — Ex-President Taft, who came here yesterday as the guest of the Pennsylvania Bankers’ Association, took a bath in his apartments in the Hotel Cape May. He failed properly to consider the size of the average seashore hotel bathtub, however, with the result that when he got into the tub the water overflowed and trickled down upon the heads of the guests in the dining room.

And the White House?  Here’s a photo of the specially-made Taft bathtub just before its installation at the White House, about 1911:

Four men show the size of President Tafts bathtub, 1911 - White House Museum.org photo

The National Archives and Records Administration has an exhibit right now at the Archives building on “BIG,” celebrating 75 years of NARA.  Included are orders for big tubs for Taft, and a replica of the giant tub installed at the White House (which was broken when it we removed in 1948 for renovation).

As evidence that William Howard Taft was the biggest man to serve as President of the United States, the exhibit presents the 1909 order for a bathtub and other items specially ordered to accommodate Taft’s 300-plus-pound frame. In January 1909, two months after being elected President (he was inaugurated on March 4, 1909), Taft boarded the USS North Carolina to set sail to inspect the Panama Canal construction zone. The ship was outfitted specially for him. The captain ordered the following items: “1 brass double bedstead of extra length; 1 superior spring mattress, extra strong; 1 bath tub, 5 feet 5 inches in length, over rolled rim and of extra width.” Later newspaper accounts (and a photograph) revealed that the bathtub was built on an even bigger scale—that it had “pondlike dimensions . . . [it] will hold four ordinary men and is the largest ever manufactured . . . the tub is 7 feet 1 inch long, 41 inches wide and weighs a ton.”

Soon after leaving the presidency, Taft lost 70 pounds, which he maintained throughout the remainder of his life. In 1921, Taft was appointed Chief Justice of the United States, becoming the only person to hold the highest office in both the executive and judicial branches.

Please play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes. While your e-mail will not show with comments, note that it is our policy not to allow false e-mail addresses. Comments with non-working e-mail addresses may be deleted.

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